The Mohawk Valley Heritage Corridor Commission, created by the state in 1997 to promote the history and culture of an eight-county region, did a good job of that, coordinating festivals and other events along the canal, installing historic interpretive signs, developing marketing programs for tourists.
But, thanks to its initiative and competence, it wound up doing much more. For instance, it oversaw a Main Street facade program in Schoharie, administered relief grants after the floods of 2006 in Canajoharie. even finished the Gillette House project in Schenectady when that had stalled. And it persuaded the state Department of Environmental Conservation to start a Mohawk Basin Program aimed at protecting fisheries, bird habitat and working landscapes.
In other words, the state easily got its money’s worth for the few hundred thousand dollars it gave the commission each year.
Unfortunately, that money dried up in 2009 with the state’s budget problems, and after a couple of years of volunteer efforts, the commission’s activities virtually ceased. Now so has the commission, at least legally, its legislative authorization expiring earlier this spring.
But there’s still a need for the commission, and interest in reviving it — on the part of the volunteers, local officials and its extremely able former executive director, Fred Miller.
Encouragingly, Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara has introduced a bill in his chamber that would authorize the commission for another 10 years, and Cecilia Tkaczyk is considering a companion bill in the Senate. That would keep the commission alive and allow it to make anew the justifiable case for state funding, as well as seek other public and private sources.